A Role and Identity Based Perspective
Chapter 2: The Family Business
2. The family business This chapter introduces the family business and discusses how the connection to a family distinguishes it from other types of business organisations. It further discusses the nature of family relations and different deﬁnitions of family, as well as crucial family functions with implications for the dynamics characterising businesses owned and managed by families. Family makes family business different Oh, so you work with family ﬁrms. Is it interesting to work with small businesses? Often I meet the belief that family business means small business. I also frequently get asked whether what I talk about as special for family businesses would not be different for the large family ﬁrm. And of course size might matter, for instance with respect to the degree of formalisation, where a larger business by necessity would have relatively more structures and systems in place. But the interesting thing is that although family businesses might differ with respect to industry, location and size, they show similar characteristics due to their connection to a family.1 10 HALL 9781845428303 PRINT.indd 10 12/06/2012 15:19 The family business 11 Understanding the dynamics of the family business starts with recognising that decisions and actions of members of the business are at the same time actions and decisions of members of an owner family (Kets de Vries, 1996; Ward, 1988). It is the interrelationship between family and business that sparks the dynamic which gives rise to many of the characteristics and special issues facing family businesses. The...
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